Emerging technology could remove co-pilot from passenger planes - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Emerging technology could remove co-pilot from passenger planes

Researchers say it could take a decade before changes are made to cockpits. (Source: Giacomo Luca, KFVS) Researchers say it could take a decade before changes are made to cockpits. (Source: Giacomo Luca, KFVS)
The view inside a simulation cockpit. (Source: Giacomo Luca, KFVS) The view inside a simulation cockpit. (Source: Giacomo Luca, KFVS)
MURPHYSBORO, IL (KFVS) - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has hired research and development group Rockwell Collins to head its Single Pilot Operations program.

“The aviation industry has been looking at the potential for single-pilot operations for quite some time to address concerns about future pilot shortages, but there are a number of technical, certification, and policy considerations that must be addressed along the way,” John Borghese said, vice president, Advanced Technology Center for Rockwell Collins. “Social acceptability must also be considered.”

With major airliners having concerns about possible pilot shortages, the aviation industry is looking toward technology to fill the gap.

The Department Chair of Aviation and Flight at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Jose Ruiz, explained that this wouldn't eliminate the co-pilot all together.

Ruiz said it would place one pilot in the cockpit and one pilot on the ground that could step in if something went wrong.

Although, Ruiz said the idea left him with more question than answers.

“Is that going to improve safety? Is that going to improve teamwork? What do we have to gain by having one ground based pilot and one airborne pilot?”

Ruiz said the most important thing in aviation is safety.

“I won't say it will compromise safety, but I don't think it will enhance safety -- And that's what we should all be concerned with is trying to maintain the safest air transportation system in the world," Ruiz said. "Is this going to contribute to that? I don't know if it will.”

Kevin Krongos, the flight simulation coordinator at SIUC says pilots train to respond to hundreds of emergencies.

“The thought of the person up there having to handle everything that could happen, that probably won't happen, that doesn't sound like a good idea to me," Krongos said.

Rockwell Collins representatives wrote in a press release that there are several things to consider including laws, procedures, and public perception.

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